The definition of the word Hajj

The definition of the word Hajj is ‘to set out with definite purpose’ meaning the definite purpose to be fulfilling the pilgrimage to Mecca. Hajj takes place each year in the 12th month of the Islamic lunar – calendar on the 8th – 13th days of Dhul-Hijjah. Each year over millions people gather in the holy city of Makkah for Hajj each year and it is a duty that must be performed by every Muslim at sometime at least once in his/her life. It’s the 5th pillar of Islam and like all the other pillars it must be performed with the right intention or ‘Niyyah’Hajj is a pilgrimage that Muslims make to Mecca, which is in Saudi Arabia. It is a spiritual journey to follow their faith and can help to discover and develop themselves, and to seek spiritual enlightenment. Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam. It is done once in every Muslims life, As the Qu’ran says. “There are some exceptions such as illness and problems with money”. Muslims go on Hajj to cleanse and purify themselves. Another reason is that Muslims see hajj as an opportunity to show their devotion to Allah.b) Describe why a Muslim might take part in Hajj and what this involves?All Muslims must travel to Mekkah, at least once in their lifetime, to perform Hajj. It is a vital must of their religion as it shows their love and how faithful they are to Allah.Before the journey a lot of preparing must be made; Families make sure they have enough money to spend, buy their tickets and arrange suitable accommodation. Once this has all been arranged then the families who are leaving dependants behind must arrange a capable guardian. This is not usually a problem due to the unity of Muslim communities.The final thing they must do before the journey is preparing, not just for the journey but also mentally. It is important that they are very knowledgeable about Hajj so they are in a fit state to meet Allah.Muslims might go on Hajj to be forgiven or to ‘cleanse and purify themselves not just physically but mentally’ When pilgrims arrive in Makkah they have to wear a set of clothing called Ihram. They wear a long white draped dress. Men wear two pieces of clothing, this is also used to burry them when they die. One piece is wrapped around the hip and the other is wrapped over the right shoulder, showing the right shoulder and this is called Ihram.A woman wears a long white dress. Women are allowed to uncover their faces on hajj because men won’t look at them with lust. The picture below shows how the women would dress. The Ihram is usually put on at a specific entry places into the vicinity of Makkah.When pilgrims go to the Ka’ba they chant and pray a prayer called ‘TalbiyahThe Ka’ba lies in the middle of a sacred mosque. Muslims walk and circle the Ka’ba in an anti-clockwise direction seven times; while chanting prayers. Circling the Ka’ba seven times is known as Tawaf. Muslims perform tawaf as a group because it shows respect to Allah that you’re all working as a group. While at the Ka’ba they see Al-kiswah. The Al-kiswah is a black cloth hung over the Ka’ba all year round it is inscribed with gold writing which are verses from the Qur’an.After all the chanting and rituals Muslims move on to two hills of Al-Safa & Al-Marwa.Now Muslims are off to perform sai’y, Muslims have to walk or run from one tip to another tip of the hill they perform this seven times back and forth between the rocky hillocks of Safa and Marwah. This is why a Muslim must be physically fit. When Muslims have finished sai’y they are off to Arafat, the mount of mercy. Arafat is in the desert approximately nine miles east of Makkah. On the day of Arafat is the most important day of Hajj, where the whole day is spent saying prayers and rituals. Some would have started chanting prayers while performing Tawaf, but some like to wait until Arafat because it is said that there is no day when Allah is more likely to listen to prayers than the day of Arafat. After Arafat is finished Muslims proceed to Muzdalifah which lies between Mina and Arafat.Pilgrims spends ‘the night of the 10th Zul hijjah here, the Zul hijjah is the last month of the Islamic calendar. While in Muzdalifah Muslims collect pebbles and stones for the stoning of the devil in Mina.In the morning there off to Mina.Here they throw pebbles they collected at the three pillars; this represents the devil who tried to tempt Abraham away from the command to sacrifice his son Ishmael. Pilgrims stone the devil to say “they rejected the devil”. While in mina pilgrims will sacrifice an animal which might be a goat. The remains of the goat will be given to the poor. At the end of Hajj pilgrims will have a portion of their hair removed and will take water from the ZamZam which is water from a spring. ‘The ZamZam is now held in a marble chamber in the Ka’ba’. The water from the spring is treasured gifts for their families back home.The whole reason why a Muslim might come on Hajj is because they want to follow in the footsteps of Mohammed and feel closer to Allah. It will also help them personally by respecting Allah and their belief of being a Muslim stronger, it will bring them to believe more and carry on with their faith and aspects of life. And the most important thing why a Muslim might take part in Hajj is because it says it in the Qur’an 3:93 it quotes:”The true Hajj is made between 8 and 13th Dhul-Hijjah, which is the twelfth month in the Islamic calendar and is the month of pilgrimage. If you go on pilgrimage to Makkah at any other time then this pilgrimage is known as Umrah or a lesser pilgrimage”.AO2b) i. Explain the meaning and significance of the events of Hajj for a MuslimHajj helps bring Muslims closer to Allah and to each other. In the Qu’ran, Allah ordered Muslims to go on the pilgrimage. Muslims believe that by taking part in hajj and while on the pilgrimage, that they can gain forgiveness from Allah. When Muslims do Hajj they are following the example of the Prophet Muhammad and the peoples of his time. People have always done Hajj in Makkah but Prophet Muhammad brought Islam back to it and made Hajj how god intended it (like it was in the times of Abraham, Adam and Eve). Muhammad had set a perfect example for all Muslims and today they will do the same as Muhammad did. Because Muslims believe you follow Islam perfectly like Prophet Muhammad did then you will be accepted through the gates of heaven.A Muslim will do the Ihram firstly because of the example of Muhammad and because it’s God’s will. Muslims put on the white garments of Ihram to remove the world’s possessions and set free the obsession of material goods. This also helps to keep equality among the Muslims; if all people wear white sheets then they have no proof of wealth or poverty. The white garments must be purely white; this shows how a Muslim must focus on Allah alone. This is due to colours and patterns on other clothing may be distracting and this would prevent Muslims from being able to purely concentrate on God. White also represents purity because the colour itself is pure and if a Muslim wears white then he/she can become ‘pure’. Plus white is also one shade and one colour which links to the Muslim community being as one and God as being one and one alone. The clothes worn on Ihram will be the same clothes a Muslim will wear on their day of death. They will also be taken to God on judgement day in this attire. The rules of Ihram should keep the peace between pilgrims on Hajj and this helps create a bond between one another and to get on better with each other which reinforces the Islam community and makes it easier for them to worship God as a whole.A Muslim will not cut their hair or fingernails because they believe that while they are on Hajj they should not interfere with Nature and be how God intended them to. This will bring a pilgrim closer to God.They will do Hajj barefoot, again to show that they are all equal and have to be pure before God. Plus the rules of Ihram will help to keep a Muslim on the straight path of life (Shariah).This means they will be able to set examples to other Muslims and become truly humble before Allah.The Talbiyah is repeated as Muslims enter Makkah to keep their mind on God and their submission and mercy before him. This shows that they recognize he/she is responsible for the Earth and all that is great, that they are his servants and that he has no equal.The Tawaf represents the eternity of Allah. A circle has no beginning or no end it is forever, like God. Muslims circle the Ka’bah in an anti clockwise direction because it is the example of Muhammad and Adam and Eve also circled this direction. It is believed that Adam and Eve saw angels circling in an anti clockwise direction when they were worshipping God’s throne. To Muslims this is important because they believe that if they behave like the angels did then surely they can pass into the kingdom of heaven. Everybody circling Together shows togetherness of the people, this again ties in with how an Islamic community should be together. The Ka’bah is circled seven times because the number seven is a number that represents eternity, again this links together with Allah being eternal. A Muslim who touches, kisses or salutes to the Ka’bah is showing their appreciation and love towards Allah.Pilgrims will do the Sai because of Prophet Abraham. He was told by God to leave his wife and son in the desert where there was no water. Abraham’s wife and son were put against a great challenge and Hajar tried to find help for her child Ishmael by running between the tops of two hills, Mount Safah and Mount Marwah. Though when all help was lost the angel Jibrael appeared and cracked his wing on the sand and a spring appeared from the ground. This shows a Muslim how to be patient in life and always try to persevere even at the worst of times like Hair had. The Sai also represents life. Running is like life and trying to find the right direction, water symbolises God the saviour, bringer and keeper of life. The water in the desert brings life and God in living things brings life.The Stand reminds pilgrims of the story of Adam and Eve when they had given into the Devil (Iblis) and his temptation of the forbidden fruit. They were thrown out of paradise, separated and wandered the Earth in loneliness and deep unhappiness. God did carefully watch over them waiting for them to one day return. When Adam and Eve had finally realised that life without God was torture they prayed on the top of the Mount of Mercy and begged to be restored to a relationship with Him again. God in his compassion forgave them. Adam and Eve in thankfulness built a shrine in the same spot as the Ka’bah and Muslims today still believe they worship God on Hajj at the exact same place.Muslim does the stand to keep their relationship with God and to ask for his forgiveness for all the bad things they may have done in life, much like Adam and Eve. When the Stand is done and a Muslim is truly sorry with keeping the correct intention they are like a new born child who has committed no sin and is fresh in the eyes of Allah.Prophet Muhammad also did his last sermon on the top of the mount of mercy. He told the people of Islam to respect their neighbours and to love all people and to follow Islam properly and with the correct intention. The Stand also reminds Muslim’s this is where Judgement Day will take place. So they will be reminded that they have to continue to be good in life to be able to enter heaven.Muslims will throw stone the Jamaras because of its relation to a story about Abraham and his temptation by the devil. One day God decided to test Abraham’s faith and love towards him. He asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son Ishmael in a dream. When Abraham woke, in extreme distress he told his son Ishmael about the dream. Ishmael told him “O father do what you are commanded to do, and do not worry about me.” They followed Islam well so they did not question why God had ordered this; they just accepted that it was his will and must be done. Abraham, Hajar (Abraham’s wife and mother of Ishmael) and Ishmael set out for Mina which was the place of sacrifice. On the journey the devil appeared in human form, trying to make Abraham and the others change their minds. They were each tempted once.All three rejected the devil’s temptations and picked up stones and drove the devil away. When they reached the place of sacrifice Ishmael asked his father to place him face down so that he could not be stopped when he saw his face. Abraham laid his son on the altar and at the last moment God stopped Abraham and replaced Ishmael with a ram. The rewards for Abraham’s obedience were that his first wife gave birth to a son, Isaac.Muslims believe that if they follow God’s will that they will prevail and be rewarded in the after life. This also reminds Muslims to make sacrifices for God. A Muslim collecting 49 pebbles and stoning the Jamaras shows that they are eternally fighting evil. They stone the Jamaras seven times with seven pebbles each time over the three days they spend there.Id Ul Adha is when they celebrate and have a great feast is represented when Abraham replaced his son with a ram. It also shows great happiness and excitement God can bring. Also the sacrifice will remind Muslims that they have to continue to sacrifice themselves and their goods for God to enter the kingdom of heaven.Hajj is important to every Muslim as it has been taking place for over 1,400 years. All Muslims try to go to Mecca at least once in their lifetime. Mecca marks the direction in which all Muslim’s pray; it is the birthplace of Muhammad (pbuh), the last prophet of Allah.ii. What difficulties might there be for a Muslim performing Hajj?The dress code is extremely important as it symbolises equality. All Pilgrims should dress equally before the eyes of Allah. This enables Muslims not to be distinguished between the rich and poor. Poor and rich people unite together. It reminds Muslims that they have left behind life at home and should only think about God. Glasses and hearing aids are allowed and unintentional breaking of the restrictions is excused. The items that follow are not allowed;* No perfume, no soap, nor in food.* No jewellery, except women’s wedding rings.* No wearing of gloves, though hands may be wrapped in cloth.* No deliberate cutting of hair, fingernails, so as not to interfere with nature.* No uprooting plants or cutting down of trees on the journey.* Neither hunting nor bloodshed, except in dealing with bedbugs, fleas, snakes and scorpions.* No carrying weapons.* No sexual relations, no kissing or flirtatious thoughts.* No engagement or taking part in weddingsAs pilgrims to Allah, they must forget about everything that would lead to dishonesty, arrogance and aggression. They must also forget the worries and pleasures of normal life. Pilgrims must be single-minded and not let anything distract them. They shouldn’t argue or lose their tempers or be irritable. Peace should be in their hearts and minds and accepting the troubles that they are faced with on the journey shouldn’t be complained about. During the journey of Hajj pilgrims should be thinking about Allah all the time.There are many difficulties facing Muslims upon their pilgrimage to Hajj. First of all is the amount of other Muslims; it is unlikely that the number doesn’t exceed 2 million. Despite the atmosphere created by this, as many would say it is like no other, which would be true, it obviously presents some dangers; dedicated followers of Islam can be crushed beneath the mass of excited Muslims, a ritual that proposes this danger is the “stoning” of the Devil, where people crowd around and attempt to throw stones at the pillars in Mina; increasing the risk of crushing, as well as the possibility of getting hit by a stone. In 2003, over 35 people died by crushing during this ritual.Secondly, the cost of the journey is incredibly expensive; including clothes and flights it can come to between �1500 and �2000. Many people save up for years until they can afford it, and often families join together to pay for just one person to go. This has proven to be a costly sum for many Muslims, thus preventing them from making the journey, however, as Allah knows that they have the intention to; he doesn’t see it as a lack of faith. Another problem is the fact that women that are under 45 years of age need a chaperone, therefore making the cost of the journey even more expensive as another person has to be paid for also.Due to Mecca’s location in Saudi Arabia of Asia, lying close to the equator, a further problem is the painfully high temperature. One event involved with the prayer is the Stand; this involves standing from sunrise to sunset without taking any time out whatsoever to relax. This procedure can result in sunburn, sunstroke and many severe cases of dehydration. The Stand is also mentally destructive; trying to keep self-discipline for such a long period of time is a very difficult task, it can lead to a breakdown, also, people get tired and it is incredibly mentally exhausting constantly praying and focusing on God. It is a tedious and long task and many Muslims may find it a struggle to stay focused, especially when contending with the blistering temperature, getting bitten by a mosquito or getting pushed and shoved during the circling.A further problem that is encountered is the fact that you need to be physically fit, as some of the rituals involved with the prayer can be gruelling, and despite what it looks like, the whole journey is definitely not easy. Furthermore, Muslims on Hajj may encounter dangerous insects that could poison them such as a scorpion or a spider.iii. How might participating in Hajj affect the life of a believer?Participating in Hajj will affect a Muslims life, even before they go to Makkah. Preparations will be difficult. They will have to save money for Hajj, to do this they will have to cut down on luxuries. Also they have to take care of work, home and family arrangements. This will be a problem to find cover for your children.When Muslims arrive they have to deal with the overwhelming emotions. They will feel proud, happy and excited they were able to complete one of the five pillars. And also completed the once in a lifetime journey.While they are wearing ihram they have to change the way they think about people, you have to know you are all equal. You could feel less proud because you are wearing simple clothing someone might think there better than you. Ihram will tell them be more great full for things in life and how much god has given you.Tawaf would make you think about who you are, and make you feel better. You feel at home and united with millions of your culture. You will realise how many there are of you, you will feel welcome and relief that your not alone in the world. They may have come with one brother but now they have millions. They will look better and fitter from all the walking.Performing sai’y you will be reminded of the Islamic history and feel you are a part of history.While at Arafat you are asking Allah for forgiveness for your bad sins you have committed, this will take a big weight off your shoulder to finally express your sins.In Mina once you are forgiven, you would have changed your life for forever because you know you will never commit your bad sins again. You would have thrown all your evil sins away. You will have a better attitude towards life and life style; you will treat everyday as a fresh day, a day given to you from god.A Muslim has now changed; they have fresh sins and are a new better person.Once a Muslim has completed the Hajj, he/she will feel fully part of the Muslim family. The enjoyment of completing the 5th pillar makes them feel spiritually benefited. One of the benefits of completing the Hajj is that their name gets changed to Hajji. If a Muslim has this name, it makes all the other Muslims respect them in a different way. The first time a Muslim completes the Hajj, it is one of the toughest things a Muslim must do, but to do it a second time, if possible, may change the life of a believer. When the Hajj is finished, a Muslim may take some water from the Zamzam, to take home for their families. It is believed that the water cures Muslims from disease; this may affect the life of a believer, by healing them of a disease.AO3’A true pilgrimage is really a journey within.’Do you agree?I think that Hajj is not only a journey within, as there are parts that will inflict great physical damage and take a great toll on many Muslims. Hajj is a long journey each event that a Muslim goes through proves to be both mentally and physically challenging, especially the Sai; the main rite of Umra and part of Hajj, it is the proceeding between the hills of Safa and Marwa seven times, and also the Stand, as previously mentioned. One could say that as long as these events are involved, the pilgrimage is not only a journey within, and without them, you would not be following the example of the Prophet Muhammad.Furthermore, if there were no physical side to the Hajj experience, then how would it be possible for a pilgrim to remember? As the physical attributes of the journey leaves reminders upon the pilgrim’s body, such as scars, bruises and aching muscles; it is incredibly rare that someone could not find the events challenging.Another view that should be stated is the fact that we are both body and soul; therefore as humans, a true pilgrimage is a journey within and without. This is a strong statement as it is a simple fact, yet very effective and straight to the point, implying that a true pilgrimage is not just a journey within.Some Muslims think that the whole point of doing the pilgrimage in the first place is to experience the physical and mental pain that Hargar experienced whilst on her frantic search for water. For these Muslims it is essential that they complete the Hajj at least once in their lifetime. The other sort of Muslims feel that it would be a privilege to complete the Hajj, but if is mentally taking part it is almost the same as physically taking part. They could argue that there is no point in going if there is no spiritual dimension to the journey within. Some feel that way because they cannot afford to go themselves, but if they help to pay for someone else to go, it shows intent.On the other hand, many Muslims would be used to facing such a hot climate where the temperature would be around 42 Celsius degree and this would present absolutely no obstacle to them, therefore withstanding many hours of such a climate, as in the stand, would prove to be no problem. As well as this, certain Muslims may do a lot of exercise and certain events, such as the Sai, would prove to be no struggle for them.The physical can aid the mental side of Hajj. Ihram for example means that a Muslim will put on their Ihram garments and be reminded mentally of the Day of Death and the Day of Judgement. This will make them realise they must be good in life and by doing this will help them become closer to God. The Stand’s physical side means you have to stand before God however this would mean nothing on its own as you would need the spiritual side to confess all of your sins and be truly repentant to God and be forgiven.Despite my arguments against the statement, a strong case for it is the simple fact that Hajj is a journey for spirituality; you venture for yourself, or for a loved one who passed away and was not able to make the journey. The Stand may be a very physical ritual and standing before God is the entire point to it, however, the physicality involved would be nothing on its own, as you need the spiritual side to wash away your sins, be truly repentant to God and finally be forgiven.Furthermore, all Muslims have to go to Hajj unless they have unavoidable circumstances; if you are ill then you can pay for someone to go in your place but they have to have made the journey before. Muslims do not have to physically be there but they can in spirit and prayer, this being a very strong argument for the statement, proving the journey to be one within.On the account of all the different reasons above I believe that participating in Hajj is really a journey within. After looking at both sides of the argument I thought that the fact that Hajj is a spiritual journey was more fitting, as it is one of the five pillars of Islam, and its meaning is to set out with a definite purpose; in this case getting closer to God. The pilgrimage to Hajj is a once in a lifetime journey, and equally both the spirituality and physically involved is really important as it reminds you of Allah. Mecca is the holy city of Islam and is home to the Black Stone in the Ka’bah, which is believed to be a meteorite sent by God as a sign to Abraham, who built it into the Ka’bah. The holiness involved in the journey is indescribable.

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